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Steelers Landry Jones looking for a better first snap than in his debut

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The Steelers' fourth round pick, QB Landry Jones, saw the opposing team score two points off his first snap in last year's preseason debut. A stronger training camp should lead to a stronger performance Saturday.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It'd be tough to script a worse game debut than the one Steelers quarterback Landry Jones made in 2013.

Preseason is the only time the third string quarterbacks - the Stewards of the Clipboard - get to show their value. Reps in practice are few and far between, and Jones' biggest issue is he looked exactly that way on his first snap.

On a designed run, Jones bobbled the snap, missed the handoff and recovered the fumble in the end zone for a Giants' safety.

A player so experienced as a passer, he threw for a Big 12 Conference record 16,646 yards in a four-year career at Oklahoma. He botched the first snap, and while he got up out of the dogpile he created on that first snap, fans still see him at the bottom of it, hidden in a fail-induced mob of other players.

It's a different year for Jones. He's aiming for a new start, one a bit less negatively memorable than his introductory series last year in Pittsburgh.

Expect a different Jones to play about a quarter or so Saturday when the Steelers travel to MetLife Stadium to again face the Giants in the preseason opener. Reports on Jones indicate at least by the end of training camp he was throwing with a much higher level of precision than he had all of last year.

The back-up quarterback is, at this point, essentially moot. Bruce Gradkowski would very likely be the in-game replacement, should Ben Roethlisberger suffer an injury. The third string quarterback can build some trust and confidence as a long-term starter once the starter is out.

Games like this help build that trust. Come out firing, complete a few passes, make a smart audible, lead the team to points. It's hard to ignore that, regardless of which players are in the huddle with him or who's lining up on the other side.

The jump from Year 1 to Year 2 is enormous for any player. Jones has at least seen preseason action before, nerves should die down a bit. The subject of the most amount of criticism of any Steelers draft pick of the last two years, Jones has a chance to write a new narrative starting Saturday.

He's just got to get that first snap off, and let it work from there.